Doing Evil in the name of Good is still Good Right? Session 5 of my OSE game

This time we had three players, my good friend Stan, Ryan of the THAC0 blog and Todd of Third Kingdom Games.

Characters included the following PC’s and Retainers:

Gimbaya, Hobgoblin warrior woman,

Abbeye Softpaws, level 4 Lawful cleric (Stan)

Lance, Level 2 Neutral Fighter

Drucilla, Level 2 Lawful Magic User

Ruben, Level 3 Lawful Fighter (Ryan)

Annie, Level 3 Lawful Cleric

Sanken Tonni, Level 3 Neutral Fighter (Todd)

Barto the Bold, Level 1 Neutral Magic User

Encountered were the following:

a Merchant in Dunmore, along with his retainers

Farmer Brown, now proud owner of a cart and mule

Barin and Fergus, Level 1 Lawful Dwarves rescued from ogres

Nain, deceased Dwarf

Bill and Bob, two ogres, deceased

an army of skeletons, some slain, some turned, some under command of Barto the Bold

Our group met in the Brass bell, and divided up the loot from their last adventure, retaining the jewelry as a more compact form of currency than coin, except for a sapphire they sold to an insistent and slightly glazed over merchant, who said “She likes Blue” when asked why he so wanted a particular stone. The group had already checked for magic and had found none. There was a discussion about carrying coin, and I had become very used to DFRPG’s 255 coins to a pound as opposed to the 10 coins to a pound model of these older games. In any case, they sold it and reupped their supplies, upgraded Abbeye to plate mail, and passed her chainmail to Gimbaya to wear instead of her leather scale, bought a mule and cart, along with a door for the tower.

After bringing the door to their demesne, and checking to see if anyone could hang it by rolling for background skills, it was determined that both Sanken and her retainer Barto had been shipwrights, and had skill enough to install the door to the tower. The other backgrounds had Annie as a candlestick maker, and Abbeye as a baker, but no butcher was to be found; Ruben was a bowyer/fletcher, and Lance had been apprenticed to a cartographer, which had spurred his interest in adventure, and his skill with a schematic is probably what lead to the right size door being ordered. Drusilla was a Lorimer, which I had to look up, so she made spurs and the metal bits on tack and harness. That Todd’s characters were woodworkers of a sort was hilarious, as Todd is a master carpenter and cabinetmaker, as well as being a prolific game designer.

After a check in, threat session with their goblin tenements, they spent an uneventful night before heading out on the hobgoblins’ pole boat, and headed upriver. I kept rolling shit for encounters, so they got to a safe place to drag the boat onto the shore and make camp. Late that night, they heard noise and everyone got up and discovered some ogres arguing over whether it was better to boil dwarves before roasting them or to tenderize them by beating them into a paste and then grilling them. One bragged about eating “Coshig,” which he describes as a cow stuffed with a sheep and a piglet then stuffed into the sheep, but the other cut him off and told him the only thing he had ever seen him stuff into a sheep was himself… and a fight broke out. The party hailed them, and a simultaneous initiative roll resulted in a grand melee, during which Sanken was struck twice, but minimally by the ogres, Lance was injured, and Barto released the dwarves, who joined the party after the ogres were trounced,, although they mourned their cousin who had been surprised on watch while they slept, and also their prospecting gear that had been left at their camp.

Later that morning, after convincing the water wary dwarves to join them with healing and promises of loot, they headed back upriver, and eventually came to a good spot to tie up the boat. Gimbaya was without a clue as to how to proceed, as she always took the overland route instead of the water route, so they headed into unknown territory. Soon, while scouting with Ruben, she found a large encampment of skeletal warriors practicing in unison with their spears, and ignoring everything else. The party formed a brilliant plan, which involved first missile fire, a wall of flaming oil, then turning by both clerics, but discovered (after wasting oil) that because the skellys had been told to keep practicing until told otherwise, that they were fairly easy pickings, and they were able to eliminate over a dozen, and turned another 9, who regrouped and started practicing again. Searching the remains of the camp, they found the body of a backstabbed officer who had a baton marked with the same 4 horned goat skull as was on the skeleton’s shields.

Barto grabbed the baton, and found that by brandishing it, he could command the remaining 9 skeletons, prompting Abbeye to call out “Doing evil in the name of Good is still Good, Right? This deeply wounded Ryan’s sensibilities, as he is an Ethics professor. Nevertheless, the neutral characters prevailed in the use of the undead troops as they finally came upon the Hobgoblin’s ring fort. This meant an end to the evening, as it was time for Todd to go.

Things learned about playing OSE, included a lot of presumptions about undead from later editions were shared by most of the group. A quick check found that Skeletons, like all undead are chaotic in this edition, unlike 1e’s neutral alignment for mindless undead, and that there were no weapons any better or worse than any other for dealing with them.

A low loot expedition, but the hobgoblins in-lair treasure awaits!

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OSE session recap 11/16 with the gang

Dramatis Personae

Abbye Softpaws, cleric 3

Lance, fighter 2

Aria Silverwind, elf 2

Drucila, MU 1,  (at end of session, MU 2)

Ashanti, “mercenary”( assassin) 3

Farmer John, normal human

Skeleton, deceased

Ankheg, deceased

The bulk of this evening’s OSE game involved the creation and introduction of a new character, for an old player, Darren, a member of the gaming group that James and Stanley belonged to with me in the late eighties to early nineties.

Also present and observing was a new player, Ralph, who wanted to see how we rolled.

After the party had defeated the coffer corpse last week, Lance had run upstairs to the relative safety of the prison level, and awakened Ashanti (who replaced the minimally defined halfling I had originally had there, and gave the same backstory, having had her party scattered by the coffer corpse and owlbear/ giant rat combo.

Darren was surprised to see how stripped down the OSE assassin was, as they have d4 hp and no longer have open locks (handy for getting to your victim) or any method of concocting poisons as they did in AD&D. I think I will resolve that as a poison saving throw to acquire venom from deceased creatures. He also opted to put his second highest roll into Intelligence; I  will reward that with better information and lore results; the only mechanical effects are more languages.

Once regrouped, a skelly followed them up and was turned.

Both Ashanti and Aria were interested in dealing with what was below…without a light so Ashanti made a series of stealthy rolls and was able to open doors and get next to …something… in the darkness of the crypt level without being seen, but wisely fled rather than engage. Still got xp for this.

Upon her return, Aria impulsively descended, and slew the skelly, but retreated as well.

The rest of the group was preparing to follow, and Lance went with Ashanti to stow his halberd safely in one of the cells so that he could use mace and shield. Ashanti took the occasion to search the cell with the chained skeleton, and opened the secret door there. After acquiring a torch; she entered a tunnel three feet wide and high, and clambered some distance to a rusted grating that served as an escape hatch for the original inhabitants of the tower. Limited by her strength (and a failed open doors roll), she returned to report, leaving the rusted hatch unopened. After an inventory of hit points, they decided to travel to a nearby farm and spend some time healing.

After resting up in the barn, they were able to assist the farmer when a giant insect leapt out of a burrow to eat one of his goats.

Taking time to ready, they fired arrows at it, avoided its acid spit, whiffed at it with a halberd, were missed on a bite attack, and felled it with another arrow and a solid swipe (nat twenty, natural max damage with 18ST) of the polearm and finished a 4hd Ankheg.

They climbed down into its lair, and over about three hours, were able to pry almost a thousand electrum pieces and a silver ring worth 100gp from the walls of its burrow, lined with resin like something out of the Alien franchise. The lawful cleric was kind enough to split some of this with the grateful farmer.

Collectively they bagged a few hundred xp, enough to raise Drucila to level 2. They returned to town to requip and Drucila loaded Sleep into her book from Aira.

Mechanics I will be using going forward: the secret doors roll is ideal for finding needle in a haystack items that involve spotting a specific something in a pile or fully concealed, like a ring embedded in the resinous walls of an Ankheg’s lair, amidst hundreds of coins similarly embeded.

I come back to BX games from many years playing games with skill systems, as have some of my players. I have seen a number of attempts to graft skills onto BX era games that were unsuccessful, but I have seen ways to use existing systems within the games.

For example, there had been a blog that proposed use of a saving throw to represent a class feature that is level and class based; I  believe it was in a post called “Save vs Awesome” that I can no longer find

The gist was that each basic class has a saving throw that they excel at, and that ought be used when a class related action is taken that has an uncertain outcome; wizardly endeavors resolved with a save vs spells, and for our poison using assassin, save vs death for handling and preparing poison… an ability check of that prodigious intelligence could identify ingredients, how best to extract it, and how to forensically recognize its use.

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OSE play session with the gang 10/17

Dramatis Personae:

Abbyee Softpaws, cleric 3;

Lance, fighter 2;

Aria Silverwind, elf 2;

Drucila, magic user 1

Hildegard of the Rolling Downs, halfling?

Janosh, cleric? Deceased

Calvin, thief? Deceased

Ludwig, magic user? Deceased

Derek the Axe, dwarf? Deceased

Owlbear Deceased 

Skeletons, 2 Deceased, 2 turned

Coffer Corpse, deceased

Giant rats, eaten or cowardly

continuing from last week

While in town, there was discussion about manufacturing spell scrolls, which I like to use the Holmes Basic suggestion of allowing Magic users of any level to create them, at a cost in materials of 1d6x100 gp per spell level, but they decided to hold off on both that and the more expensive spell research option.

After resting in town, and requipping their disposables, and upgrading Lance the fighter’s armor to plate, they headed back to the brigands’ tower.

The night before they arrived, there was a screeching  sound while Aria was on watch. Naturally, she woke the others and went out ascouting. Eventually she came upon a football  sized owl pellet. She returned and told the others, who agreed that whatever it was should be hunted down.

I used the secret doors mechanic for tracking, and after getting a little lost, they were able to track it to… the brigands tower.

They geared up, and for some reason, decided against having the fighter use the high damage polearm and had him charge in with a light club and shield. Aria, not knowing its HD, cast sleep at it. Lance pasted it, but was struck badly. Abbyee immediately cured a few points of his damage. Lance attacked it again, the owlbear whiffed, and Aria grabbed her sword while Drucila prepped a molotov cocktail.

Lance, Abbyee, and Aria all hit, and Drucila set it on fire,finishing it.

After surveying the area, and finding two bodies, a crushed dwarf (Derek of the Axe) and a gutted cleric (Janosh), from whose remains they recovered 16 gp, 8 sp and 8 cp, all evenly divided, along with a mace (given to Lance as an upgrade to his club) and a fine looking dwarven axe, engraved with an interlace pattern (snatched up by Aria). Suspecting more missing adventurers, they gutted the owlbear, and happily found only the remains of giant rats.

Keeping with their standard anti-undead procedures of performing proper burials, they buried the hapless dwarf and cleric, and looked for a place to dump the body of the owlbear so as not to attract scavengers. 

When they had last approached this area, it had been raining and dark, on the return they were occupied  with prisoners, so this was their first opportunity to really get the lay of the land.

The former brigands’ lair was situated on a hill with a sheer cliff like drop down to a rocky beach beside a river that flowed south back to town. Aria used her rope and grapple to descend, and spotted two cave-like openings, one about 15 feet up, the other at ground level. Once on the shore, she became interested in a log sunk into the water a few feet from the shore that she soon surmised was a mooring post.

Carefully, without entering the caves, she ascended and reported the area as safe to dump the body without poisoning the river.

They did, and could smell roasting meat all night while they stayed on the upper floor of the tower, sleeping to refresh spells, with the usual guards posted.

For their location (and precautions) there were no random encounters that night, but some of Abbyee’s spells went to heal Lance, who had been hurting. They descended to the ground level and then through the trap door, with the elf leading.

At the foot of those stairs, she was surprised bya skeleton, and stabbed for a small amount of damage, and was able to fire an arrow at it. 

Much planning vs weapon types vs undead gad been going on, but my players have played so many systems that they didn’t know what applied here.

From immediately behind Aria, Abbyee turned the skeleton, which ran off.

They proceeded to the dungeon, where they found another skeleton attempting to stab someone in a cell.

Aria blasted it to smithereens with a magic missile, and they discovered  the famished halfling Hildegard  barricaded within, having spiked the cell door shut.  After giving her a ration, and hearing that there had been 5 in her party, of which three were now accounted for, and that everything had gone south when Calvin had opened the box (a sarcophagus with an effigy on it) and four of the other coffhad opened as well. They asked what she wanted to do,which was to return home to the Rolling Downs, but balked at giving her arrows… and cast sleep on her to make sure that she didn’t do them any harm from behind.  Again, they did not investigate the jail cell with the hanging skeleton, except to notice that it was wired together. 

They descended to the level of the crypts, and posted a guard while Aria investigated a nearby wine cellar/storeroom. Therein she was attacked by the same skeleton that had met previously, and after another light injury, she cut it down with the axe, releasing a little black smoke when she did so. This attracted the attention of 6 giant rats that were nibbling on the stripped corpse of Hildegard’s companion Ludwig. The rats advanced, but failed a morale check upon seeing the party, and retreated.

At this point, a coffer corpse,the nominal boss monster, stepped out of the room, and resisted Abbyee’s attempt to turn it,and proceeded to choke her. Drucila molotov’ed it, scoring low enough damage  as to not invoke its special feature, and then Lance smashed it with his mace. Abbyee, freed from the downed creature, then advanced into the room, stepping over it,and she then turned two skeletons that were advancing from within.… The coffer corpse then arose again like the antagonist of a slasher movie, causing Lance to flee the burning, walking corpse. (The others made their saves) It snatched up Aria by the throat,who chopped at it for real damage, accompanied by the hissing and whispers of black vapor as it was struck, but not enough to put it down for good. Next round she cut it down , but they decided to retreat at this point

Minimal treasure was acquired, due to the strategic withdrawal, but they only returned upstairs and haven’t left yet.

Xp so far was 175 for the owlbear, 30 for the CC, 20 for the skeletons with the ‘rescue’ of Hildegard TBD. So far not enough for Drucila  to advance.

The entirely of their encounters dealt with a restock of the area, using a selection of wandering monsters from the outside area (the owlbear) and a standard table result for a party of adventurers, and added in what the results would be of a few interactions; the thief opened the coffer corpse’s tomb, which released it to choke out the thief, and activated the skeletons, some of which were turned, once the coffer corpse rose again they failed their saves and fled. Two of them ran to the main floor, and died at the hands of the owlbear. The halfling barricaded herself, and the magic user fled to the storeroom to be eaten by rats. (Who stripped him is a question for another time).

  I frequently use captured or otherwise imprisoned npcs as a means of providing in-story means of providing backup characters in case of near tpk.

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owlbear fight by Jim Roslof
coffer corpse by Russ Nicholson

Actual play with old friends using OSE

Players:

OSE Play recap with the old group we used google meet, and haven’t seen eachother in over 15 years!

Stanley, playing Abbyee Southpaw, a Lawful cleric 3 of the spider goddess from Petty Gods, and Lance, a fighter 2

James, playing Aria Silverwind, an elf 2 with sleep and magic missile

            And Drucila , a human magic user1 with protection from evil.

We started the main party with 4200xp and retainers at 2100. Characters were rolled with 4d6, dropping lowest, and arranging stats by preference, max hp for first level. Only one character, Lance, bought up a stat by reducing another.

Starting money was the base rolls only.

Two days from town and during a rainstorm, they came upon a brigands lair while the brigands were hunting, and sought shelter within.

After a quick survey of the area to rule out hostiles, they set a fire in the fireplace and began to search, enough to realize that the ruined tower with its collapsed roof and leaky upper story had been very recently inhabited.

One such sign was a bit of graffiti that matched a heraldric shield device of a group that had beenpart of an army that had laid siege to their town a few months before.

 Checking through the arrow slits on the damp upper level, they determined that the glow of the fireplace could be seen from the entrance due to the front doors and most of the furnishings having been used as firewood.

They also saw several lanterns approaching…

The elf was also able to spot a secret trapdoor due to rain water draining around its edges.

Lance, brute that he is, was able to rip it clean from its hinges, which left it obvious where they went, as if the barricade of the empty doorway and roaring fire weren’t enough of an indication that they had been playing goldilocks, which factored in their decision not to parley with the larged armed party approaching. 

Down they went, Aria scouting ahead and finding a door below that led to two more doors.

A quick check of the left showed a row of cells,and to the right a staircase further down.

They decided to head deeper in, and kicked in the next door into… a crypt. They all froze, and decided immediately not to mess with any of the 4 plain sarcophagi or the two with carved effigies, and prepared defensive spells to deal with the brigands they could hear approaching. 

Lance’s primary weapon was a polearm, due to poor starting cash rolls, and he carried a sword and club as backup… with 18 ST it was quite effective. 

Dulcinea cast pro vs evil on herself, and Abbyee cast it on Lance.

First order of business when the door was yanked open by ten spearmen in leather and shield was to cast sleep. 13 HD affected, and only three saved. Lance charged out and brained one, followed by Abbyee with her mace, and Aria with her bow and a natural 20. They quickly stripped and bound the captives, and prepared to politely interrogate them. This was facilitated by Lance bashing another who tried to pull a knife on them.

After a fistful of super low reaction rolls, I got a 12 and the beans, such as they were, were spilled, after a Samuel L. Jackson monologue from the others.

They moved their encampment upstairs after gagging the prisoners and deciding wisely not to sleep in the crypt (Abbyee has an 18 wisdom).

While they got a fistful of copper from each, along with weapons and armor, a better search in the morning revealed 200gp and 160gp worth of furs from a trader the brigands had robbed, along with a freshly killed deer. They paused to properly bury the dead to avoid creating some species of revenant, and frogmarched them in to town with their gear slung behind them.

I used 25% as the base rate of sale on used cheap goods, so they made an additional 133gp and received xp for defeating the foes as well.

A great deal of listening, great open doors rolls, and a lack of interest in stretching themselves too thin. Real ease of use of THAC0; Stan was my first DM back in 1982.

Lets see how this tower restocks itself next week!

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Groty i Giganci and a farewell to the Ymid

I recently discovered another gaming product that used a great deal of my artwork, the Polish language Groty i Giganci written by Simon Piecha, and based on Swords & Wizardry Whitebox.

There is also a supplement available from the same source, also loaded with my artwork, called Osteria. I wish I could read them , the books are beautifully done.

Meanwhile, after several years of play by post gaming in my DFRPG game Northport over on rpol.net, the juniors group have finally said farewell to the Ymid. The Ymid was a creation of GarrisonJames, over at the blog Hereticwerks. After very loosely assisting in the destruction of a demonic shop, (the Ymid, being an elder thing, is both curious and indifferent to their cause, but did help convert one of the PC’s into a Cultist of the Elder Gods, armed with gate spells that helped them shut down the shop).

They had just helped the Ymid rebuild his floating skiff, which had been crushed by a dhole exiting the gate from the Vale of Pnath… The skiff was powered by a lead acid battery that stimulated four pig hearts to circulate a gallon of flying porions through a series of bladders and arteries built into the frame of the skiff, and the outer ring had millions of cockroach wings under it to provide both a creepy hum, and some ability for steering.

They had paid for the flying potions by selling a Yr-go to an alchemist (the monocular fungal creation had grown from an eye snatched from one of the Vejovian cultists the group’s priest had following them around, leaving Pierre the One Eyed victim to strange visions and dreams), along with a chunk of bile covered gold the Yhad given them from a dead gods gallbladder it used as a purse.

I even had them rescue the Ymid from a giant spiderweb, just like in Clatterdelve, and at the same time, one of the PC’s got a giant spider familiar.

A windfall of source material

I got paid for my Holmes D&D inspired BlueHolme Journeymanne work (which I will release as an art bundle once it ships) and spent some of it on, well, Holmes.

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Tales of Peril

I also did a little work for the Holmes inspired Zine Exciting! Imaginative! Fantastic!

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The biggest windfall of inspiratory source material was an 18 volume set of Grolier’s mid seventies encyclopedia of esoterica, The Supernatural,  which I picked up from a street vendor for twenty bucks. The woodcuts of dragons alone was worth  it!

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I have already laden my game with cults, using the DF15 cultist frequently, along with inspiration from Dark Albion’s  Cults of Chaos, and Dark Naga’s Hastur Cult as seen in the Temple of Forgotten Evil.

I had run a modern day GURPS Horror game in the nineties that featured real cults from the seventies, like the snuff trading, LSD selling Process Church of the Last Judgement. That game ran quite a few years, and included a character who was an albino were-python cab driver, a surgeon discovering the physiological effects of being a zombie, a filthy rich dilletante who later became a vampire, and an FBI agent.

Ah, good times then! Let’s see what is in store for my players now!

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Some updates

Finally, after over a year and a half, The second group to pick up the thread of the star crossed goblinoid couple got the job done.

As I have detailed here before, Hramina the orc cheerer had run off with Glosso the goblin kwik, and had gone into hiding. The orc supporters of her snubbed Jugger, Murfash, had started tearing up the city, and causing havoc amongst the goblins. This was bad for guild business, as the Adventurer’s guild was heavily involved in gambling rackets, and in particular, the betting on the goblinoid jugga league.

Our resident munchkin, he who created Gorgath the Ogre and the lets put every weapon modifier on one item Doomrazor, had created a fully weaponized Nymph Bard. This greatly facilitated negotiations for the rest of the group, an unattractive thief with a speech impediment, a martial artist, a Xia naginata specialist and minstrel,  and a telekinetic mentalist.

After their mishaps with Khrosh and the members of his televodnica, from which they stole a trophy in order to bribe a retired Hobgoblin Kwik who was keeping the young pair sequestered, they went to the guild to see what they could do to make a deal with the orcs. As the guild was working on expanding operations into the undercity for trade (principally with the trolls), Rigo the guildmaster conceded that letting the orcs take a piece of the action was feasible. This naturally created a jumping off point for guild based characters opposed to this offering.

They then went to see the girl’s mother, who got them to see the orcish matriarch Huralda, a very traditional woman who had cheered for her jugger, then married him (and later buried him) and it looked like they were going no where, but made arrangements to meet with Ganosh, the elder. He was more sympathetic, and was willing to hear their request, if they delivered Glosso and Hramina to him.

This they did, albeit with a significantly armed force consisting of guild halberdiers and a pack of goblins armed with poison arrows.

Glosso stepped up, and accepted the elder’s terms, that as the husband to an orc, and father to (eventually) half orcs, he should be considered an orc. Speaking formal phrases in Orcish he had learned, he was accepted. Hramina was asked by what right she ought abandon her jugger player, and answered smartly, that only the quick might lay hands on the prize. This answer was accepted, and the guild invited all into a tavern so that they might close the mercantile expansion deal.

Around this time there was some fallout from the semi-completion of another adventure thread.  The wuxia characters, who had bearded the horde of Rotten Clan of ninja in their lair, and fought off a small army of naginata wielding guards, upgraded from the 62pt template with combat reflexes, 8points extra in naginata, and the perks of teamwork and sacrificial parry. The idea of them was so that they could collectively x-parry the ridiculous attacks of Jin, the 17 ST tetsubo wielding Yakuza with the party, who had been making mincemeat out of the opposition.  The gang ignored a wooden fitted door they had deduced was a powder room for stocking flash and smoke grenades, and missed out on the rest of useful supplies, like paut and healing potions.  They moved on to destroy a skirmisher/adept with deathtouch and an apprentice/ninja and one player pocked their magic weapons.  after that battle, they ran into a bunch of cultists summoning the Master of Burning Incense from the jade and silver tea service they were pursuing, under the watchful eyes of their Omo’s enemy, Akira No Aku.  Several petty demons involved in the ceremony spotted the celestial being in their party, Kho Kilana, and charged (celestials being a favored enemy of  demons) and cut their way through the guardsmen to get at her.  The cultists were successful at  raising the Oni, who promptly disemboweled some of them. He took a solid hit from one of Jin’s  throwing irons (hunga mungas), as did Akira No Aku, off in the corner of the room. The Oni, fully realizing that his thousand year sentence might be extended if he failed to return to his prison, agreed to do so on the condition that the Celestial accompany him.  Tired of mortal company, she agreed, thus fulfilling the I Ching reading I had taken for the theme of this adventure when it started.

The demonologist tossed a vial containing a Toxifier (basically a spellstone of Summon Demon), and the group beat a retreat, except for Jin who had critically injured himself with a fumble, and wanted to collect his throwing irons. The others convinced him to go with them, and after trying destroy air and blocking pursuit with create fire, they escaped up the wellshaft and into the warehouse. The martial artist carrying the magic items that could have destroyed the toxifier gave himself the bad back disadvantage after critically failing a lifting roll, trying to cover the trap door with a barrel of salt. The warehouse above had about two dozen barrels like this, preserving corpses for shipment home for burial on family plots.

Our heroes escaped, but the toxifier animated all of the salted dead, and proceeded to attack the area the wedding was taking place.

 

 

 

 

Reviews and Mail

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This great batch of  25 mm plastic figures come to me from Mike Monaco, of the Swords & Dorkery blog. Last summer I correctly guessed how deep into a mammoth cave system Mike was able to descend, and he sent me these. He had them packed up to go on a shelf in his garage, and just stumbled upon them. They are really great and appropriate to my current game. The dude with the blue shield looks like Haskell the Crafty, and the uge ensemble of naginata wielders resemble both one of my player’s Wuxia character, Chye Isuel (Translates to mean “Mountain Dew”) as well as a crew of guards with sacrificial parry and teamwork I had put in place to specifically block the attacks of the 17 ST, Tetsubo wielding Yakuza enforcer Jin.

Naturally, their planned deployment in x-parrying his tetsubo failed miserably; The players had just defeated a crowd of ninjas attacking from murderholes in the ceiling of their lair; a mixture of gas grenades and explosive fireballs striking ninjas festooned with bandoliers of nagtatapos smoked out the ninjas… and injured party members who had climbed up into the rafters with the ninjas as the attacks were made by the rest of the party.  We are pbp, and hours had gone by between posts, but they still dove into the areas as they were being firebombed.  Nearby they found a door without any metal fittings, and labeled in Sahudese with an advisement that fire was not welcome.  The players quickly figured out that this might be the armory where the black powder for preparing nagtapos were stored, and wisely decided to fire an explosive fireball at the room…

Had the spellcaster not been talked out of this plan, the adventure would have ended abruptly as the tunnels collapsed.  Entry into the ninja’s lair had been difficult enough. I had one character, who had some area knowledge and urban survival swearing that good rolls to those skills would let him find a handy manhole cover that would lead directly to the target location.  He was displeased to learn that good rolls would advise him that A) Tunnels existed in this part of the city, and B) where the locked buildings with official access for the Department of Sewers and Aqueducts were, but would not create a door by searching, as it might in Dungeonworld.

The actual entrance was inside a guarded warehouse with a basement, but not accessible through the basement, only through a trap door under a crated marriage bed surrounded by barrels full of salted corpses being shipped back to Sahud for burial. Definitely not a casual find…

So, with the squire/adept still holding a fireball he had burned HP to raise, the crack troop of coordinated Naginata wielders rounded the corner, ready to nerf the Yak, and got roasted instead, although not before Shima made an appearance…

Shima is a minor villain, who had organized a diversion of brawling laborers, that the party slaughtered, who is basically an honorbound sumotori brute with power blow, and one of the few npcs I had handy who could have ended the yak early. he had his hand smashed by Jin’s tetsubo, although it was since restored by another character currently in another thread.

The other groups are converging; Hitomi (now npc’d after the player bailed), travelling with a telekenetic mentalist, a Chye Isuel the errant knight/minstrel and the overbuilt nymph bard (run by the same player who has Gorgath, and is equally weaponized) are now linking up with the Juniors group, along with the last remnants of the team trying to rescue the goblin kwik and orc cheerer, mostly so I can render the groups npc free, as I am forever losing players but trying to keep the story going.

Deep underground, the group negotiating with the trolls had launched an assault on the city of the People of the Pit, defeating a giant berserker pit person, and discovering the mental abilities of an Unknowable thing which was whisked away by a giant tentacle from beyond when I rolled an 18 on a mental blast attack. Everyone gets colorful crits.

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Meanwhile in other mail  related news, I now have the two core books of John M. Stater’s Blood & Treasure 2e, and cannot wait to get a physical copy of Nod 30!

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All three of these items are thick with my illustrations, and this issue is so full of clever gonzo old school references, from Robot monsters to excellent rules for character race generation. Plus, it is worth the 3.99 just to get the backstory on how these three races from the Undiscovered Country relate:

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John Stater isn’t just prolific, he is very imaginative and funny. I was paid for this work already, I make nothing from his future sales, save that they make him flush enough to continue to buy work from me, but there is a lot of good art of mine in his publications.

Another set of publications I advocate for are the wonderfully pulpy issues of Cirsova Zine. I grew upo reading my way through my Dad’s collection of Sword and Sorcery books; when I got my DM’s Guide, I didn’t have to search for too many items from Appendix N, he had most of them.  The collected authors of Cirsova 1 and 2 do an awesome job of bringing back the feel of adventure fiction penned around the future ruins of earth. Great stuff, all of it, and check out the blog – I am tempted to drop an ad for my work into issue 4.

 

 

A new theme, The Revenant,and thoughts on hexcrawling

As I indicated in my last post, I made a few recent additions to my vast and sprawling PDF library, and a number of them had a certain theme. Two were from Lord Gwydion’s blog, The Flying Swordsmen and Chanbara. Along with those generously free downloads, I purchased Ruins & Ronin, and I already had Kabuki Kaiser’s Mad Monks of Kwantoom.  While I don’t own GURPS Japan or China, I did own the 3e version of GURPS Fantasy, that had its own hodgepodge piece of misconstrued cultural appropriation in the land of Sahud. Languages in Northport’s greater world are borrowed from that of Yrth; Northport is in a pseudo-medieval France called Aral, and the inhabitants speak Aralaise.  To uncomplicate the broad number of real world cultures and languages being roleplayed by a bunch of people on line who I suspect are only as familiar with them as I am, and to maximize the usage of points spent linguistically, I am  going the lazy route and following suit.

Much like my mid-eighties forays into Oriental Adventures, this shift toward the world of  Wuxia in my DF game began with a player (of a shadow elf Sorceress) asking to play a ninja.  Pictured above are her character, Airis Moonshadow, a catfolk ninja; Chou-Zen Mou, an Elder Spawn Wizard; Jin, a Yakuza enforcer. Together with some other fantastical characters, built on templates from DF 15, including Iskander, a skirmisher with added lenses and slightly boosted stats and second sight, entering from Valdassya, and Ales Konstantin, a Shevnian Squire-Adept.

I am going to gather them together under the aegis of a former Adventurer’s Guild Master, Lord Sakemoko, a character I first introduced to players back in 2002 when my game was on Playbyweb. Sakemoko is the highest ranking member of Sahudese society in Northport, and oversees a lot of their importing. Here is the hook: a Ship’s sorcerer (Sahudese ships all have weather workers to travel as far as they do) has had a silver and jade sake service stolen from the ship by a rival clan of ninja, and they must retrieve it. The item is magical… and once I had one ninja, I had to add others. We will see how this develops.

 

Meanwhile , my juniors group, who collectively said NOPE when faced with entering the dreamlands via the gate activated by the Ymid, have moved on into the undercity, making their own doorway with a crowbar, and wandering into one of the Doomchildren that escaped the previous street collapse caused by oversealous use of the Whimsy spell and getting blown up by it.  After healing and recovery, they managed to walk into more cultist leavings, some fatigue draining evil runes written on the floor in sacred squid ink, by virtue of sending  the two characters with infravision ahead to scout…

My Saturnine cultists aren’t pointy hatted ones like Peter’s, part of their initiation is to dye a homespun robe in a barrel of cuttlefish which they get to ink by drowning a cat in the barrel. Therefore, my cutlists have dark sepia robes, black hands and scratched up faces. Many of them go on to cut off their toes in order to spend time with succubi conjured by group ritual, for the purpose of generating Doomchildren.  It is a growing organization.

My group investigating the Jugger team abuses have once again demonstrated that while characters with equal points aren’t necessarily equal, characters within the same niche dominate like characters with lower points. To wit, a 62 point guardsman can trash a 250 ppint wizard if he gets the drop on him, but guards, brutes and skirmishers don’t stand a chance against full blown martial artists. We had two of them, a human who studied under the “Unified School” and the orc run by the player who invented Smasha.  The human was nearly undone by the third character he fought with, wiping the floor easily with the other two but the orc, built with high Strength, was able to wade through a few brutes without risking injury. I had the martial artists entering the orcish dojo be ritually greeted with the lowest students and work their way up until the leader of the dojo was satisfied with their performance enough to talk with them, much like Peirs Anthony did with War.

My other group has returned to the depths to negotiate trade with the trolls they had proved themselves to earlier, and had discovered that the trolls were very glad to  have bacon in their lives. So much so that we had three days of posting pig related puns before it was announced that the People of the Pit had struck again…

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People of the Pit

Which brings us to the Group on the Hexcrawl. The other night I watched the Revenant, which was terribly beautiful, brutal and sad all at once. Please go see it, if only to watch Leo get mauled by mama bear. Seriously, all I could think of was how many HT rolls he was making during this picture.It was a gorgeous example of what goes wrong in the wilderness, and what the hell was wrong with frontiersmen: everything.  The abuses and betrayals that went on in this picture were astounding. Made me feel like I have been pulling punches on these guys.

So the expedition into war torn Shevnia is run by Oren, an Agent/treasure hunter originally played by the same guy who has Grend, the smasha enthusiast in the other thread, and Jin the yak in the new group.  Along with him are Stringfellow Hill, (a bard), Danos (a mountain elf thief), Syvanus (a second hand woods elf Archer with Scout/Wizard and Scout/Thief lenses) , Kiprich Rockson (a modified Earth priest with elementals in tow), Snorri Rosslovich (a Seasoned Guard) and Marlena Dubouis (a Seasoned Apprentice). They were being stalked by a pack of assorted bandits types who joined them when the party demolished a squad of Gnolls and impressed them with their skills.  The expedition had been mounted after they stole a map leading to a possible resting place of a fabulous treasure;the missing pay train of two months back pay in silver of an entire contingent of the Shevnian army that turned coat when the money never showed. The PC’s figure on about twenty to thirty pounds of silver coins, the loss of which caused the loss of the war and the partial takeover of Shevnia by the orcs, about forty years ago during the height of the black plague.

Having a handful of questionable people with them was more of a concern to them given this destination in mind, than the wizard type riding around the countryside on top of a supercolossal Earth Elemental.   The bard came up with a beautifully rolled and expounded performance of a song about their “true” aim, recovering the topaz encrusted crown of the king of a lich army, and it was convincing enough to make the bandit types clear off and risk tangling with the giant elemental.

Of course,  believing strongly in player agency, especially when someone in the party has a fate bending trait like weirdness magnet, I had them stumble across a menhir dedicated to the turncoat soldiers who died when a long gone king was summoned to protect the land… reminding them that every lie has some truth in it, and that they might be closer than they think to another adventure. A three foot crown flaming with topazes the size of plums? Maybe not. An eighteen inch crown set with topazes the size of plum stones? Maybe. An army of liches? Maybe a lich with an army. Maybe.